NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 22, 2022: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk arrives before the FA Premier League match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Why Virgil van Dijk is not in the Liverpool squad vs. Chelsea

While Jurgen Klopp has dropped a number of his big names for Liverpool’s trip to Chelsea, Virgil van Dijk has missed out entirely for another reason.

Klopp has made six changes to his starting lineup at Stamford Bridge, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah among those left out.

Curtis Jones makes his first start since November 1, while Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas are given a rare outing as part of the back four.

One of the biggest surprises upon the release of Liverpool’s teamsheet at 7pm was the absence of Van Dijk from the 20-man squad.

The Dutchman misses out due to illness, having not travelled to London after feeling unwell in the buildup this week.

Nat Phillips takes his place, named on the bench after a month-and-a-half break.

Harvey Elliott is also not in the squad for the first time this season, with no explanation yet for the midfielder’s absence, which falls on his 20th birthday.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the other player omitted, with Luis Diaz and Thiago not fully fit and Naby Keita, Stefan Bajcetic and Calvin Ramsay all injured.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 1, 2023: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Van Dijk has been in shaky form throughout the season, with the centre-back coming in for increasing criticism both in England and his native Netherlands.

Speaking after the 4-1 defeat to Man City on Saturday, he said he expected “hard talking” among the squad as they bid to improve their ailing form.

“If you’re losing the way we lost, then definitely there will be some hard talking,” he told journalists.

“That’s really normal. We’re grown men.”